Winning a Formula 1 race is about more than pure speed. Drivers, pit crews, and team managers need to make hundreds of decisions in the blink of an eye, all while flying around a winding track at speeds up to 200 miles per hour.
For decades, those decisions were driven by instinct and experience. But modern Formula 1 races are increasingly driven by technology and information, with teams analyzing massive data sets to uncover advantages that can mean the difference between standing in the winner’s circle and coming up a few milliseconds short.
Christian Horner, team principal of Red Bull Racing, knows more about what it takes to lead a winning Formula 1 operation than almost anyone. In this episode of Productivity Confidential, we talk to Horner about staying cool under pressure, how data has revolutionized racing, and what it takes to keep a winning team hungry.
Highlights from the podcast:
TED BROWN: I want to move into a more philosophical area. I wanted to talk about pressure and success.
CHRISTIAN HORNER: Yep.
BROWN: Red Bull Racing’s obviously had a ton of success in the past and going forward they’ll have a ton of success to be sure, but I’m wondering how you keep your team hungry for more success and how the depressurization effect of success can be a de-motivator. How do you get people still motivated to win something to go out there and win every race that you take on?
HORNER: We’re very much forward-facing and forward looking. So you win a race, you enjoy it for the night that you’ve won it, but the next morning full focus is on the next Grand Prix. In Formula One you’re judged every two weeks and you’re very much as good as your last race. In that, we were second last weekend. So Mercedes were a little bit quicker than us in all honesty in Abu Dhabi. That always leaves you hungry for more. If you’ve won, you’ve not won by enough and if you haven’t won then you’ve got to try harder to make sure you’re in with a shout at the next race. So that drive, that hunger and that passion runs throughout the factory here at Red Bull Racing. That’s one of the reasons why this team has achieved so much in the last 10 years or so.
BROWN: This idea that second place is the first loser.
HORNER: Yeah. It depends on the circumstances. It’s a very easy analogy. This business is all about winning and our mantra and our goals are very much absolutely set up to be challenging to win Grand Prixs and win world championships.
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